Are You Fit to be Pregnant?
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I exercise now I am pregnant?
Exercise benefits us all. It promotes muscle tone, strength and endurance. It will help you to carry the added weight gained during your pregnancy; prepare you for the physical stress of labour; promote a quicker recovery postnatally and enable you to return to your pre-pregnancy figure faster.
I have never exercised before - is it safe for me to start now I am pregnant?
Now is not the time to take up marathon running or horse
riding for obvious reasons! However, pregnancy is a time when women may start to reassess their health and fitness and look at taking up some form of exercise. Antenatal Yoga, Aquanatal classes, static cycling, swimming and walking are all safe forms of exercise to do whilst you are pregnant.
What is Antenatal Yoga?
Antenatal Yoga is yoga specifically designed for pregnant mothers that takes into account your changing shape and above all your safety. Since everyone in the class is also pregnant, it is a great opportunity to meet other local mums and a chance to compare "bumps".All Yummy Yoga Mummies Antenatal Yoga classes are taught by Caron who is an experienced midwife and so it is also an excellent opportunity for an informal chat with a midwife and a chance to ask those questions you are usually afraid to ask!
What is Aquanatal?
Aquanatal is a specially designed class for pregnant mothers in water. It is designed to improve all round fitness by incorporating aerobics, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and relaxation. Most classes are taught by a midwife who has a specialist qualification in teaching Aquanatal exercises. You do not have to be able to swim to attend Aquanatal.
I am generally quite fit - is it safe for me to continue with my normal exercise programme whilst I am pregnant?
As long as you inform your fitness instructor that you are pregnant and check with your midwife or doctor first, there is no reason why you should not continue with your normal routine. As your pregnancy progresses however,you must listen to your body and adapt any of the harder routines. Avoid high impact aerobics and step aerobics where possible and always ensure you are wearing suitable footwear. Remember to drink plenty of fluids throughout the class. Don't be disheartened when you can't perform as well as you did - you are not meant to now that you are pregnant!
What are the advantages of exercising whilst pregnant?
Exercising whilst pregnant allows you all the usual benefits of exercising in general, plus a few more:-
It will improve your cardio-vascular system (heart and lungs). This is already naturally improved by physiological changes during pregnancy so you may find that you can perform slightly more easily than normal.
It will build up your stamina and endurance which will improve your body's ability to cope with labour.
Your muscles will get stronger and more toned which will make look and feel better about yourself.
Exercise increases flexibility and this will also help during labour and delivery. It also encourages a feeling of "well-being" by producing natural endorphins, which promotes a more positive self-image. It promotes and facilitates better sleep patterns.
Keeping fit assists in the management of weight gain, especially when undertaken 2-3 times per week.
It improves posture and reduces the incidence of backache.
Exercise helps to counteract minor disorders of pregnancy such as swollen ankles, varicose veins and constipation by improving circulation.
Some studies have also shown that keeping fit during pregnancy can reduce the length of labour, reduce the risk of forceps deliveries and lower the likelihood of needing a caesarian section.
When physical fitness is maintained or enhanced it will in turn promote a faster return to your pre-pregnancy figure.
Most importantly though - it is fun !
Are there any occasions when it is not safe to exercise during pregnancy?
Yes there are.
It is only safe to exercise during pregnancy when there are no complications.
Listed below are some of the contra-indications to exercising whilst pregnant.
If in doubt, always check with your midwife or GP first.
- Anyone with heart problems
- Severe asthma
- Pre-eclampsia (raised blood pressure, swelling & protein in your urine)
- Vaginal bleeding
- Severe anaemia
- Placenta praevia
- Never exercise if you think your "waters" may have broken.
Are there any exercises I should avoid during pregnancy?
Yes there are!
It is generally considered that the following exercises / sports should be avoided during pregnancy:
- Contact sports such as netball or hockey
- Horse riding (unless competent)
- Step aerobics / High impact aerobics
- Rock Climbing
- Ice skating / Roller skating
Is there a time limit on when I can safely exercise during pregnancy?
No, as long as you feel comfortable with the type of exercise you are performing, it is quite safe to continue exercising throughout your pregnancy - in fact classes such as Antenatal Yoga and Aquanatal can be a "life saver" when you feel extremely heavy towards the end of your pregnancy; and if you are not suffering too much with "morning sickness" it is safe to start exercising as soon as you find out you are pregnant.
Are there any precautions I should take before starting to exercise during pregnancy?
As repeatedly stated, always check with your midwife or GP first.
Always check out the qualifications of your instructor and make sure he or she is aware that you are pregnant before you start any class.
Relaxin hormone loosens your joints in preparation for delivery and in doing so supports an increased risk of injury.
Concentrate on your technique which will also help to reduce the likelihood of injury.
Wear a good fitting bra because breasts tend to increase in size during pregnancy and can be very tender.
Loose clothing and good footwear are very important both for comfort and reducing the risk of injury.
Remember your body has changed shape! Your centre of gravity has moved, your weight has increased and you will tire more easily
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY - if it hurts or is uncomfortable - DO NOT DO IT !
It is better to do regular exercise 2-3 times a week than one long weekly session.
How will I know if I am doing too much?
Your body will let you know if you are over exercising. Some of the signs you may experience include;
- Shortness of Breath
Remember it is important to drink plenty of fluids whilst exercising to avoid dehydration.
By listening to your body you should be able to enjoy your pregnancy. Exercise is however, only part of the equation. There are many aspects to a healthy lifestyle including a well balanced diet and giving up smoking where necessary. Take the advice of the professionals caring for you and read as much information as you can.
Above all, don't be scared to try exercise - especially if you have never tried it - you might be surprised - you may enjoy it!
Exercises and Hypnobirthing Techniques relax,
tone and prepare your mind and body for a beautiful birth!